Photo: Retrieved Matías Delacroix / AP
- In what was described as a productive Wednesday, even though we’re still in quarantine, Nicolás announced that he’d appoint a team to evaluate the new price of gas. “The gas we brought from Iran and other countries has been paid in dollars and many people have proposed, and I agree, that gas must be paid for, and I’m directing alongside a special national advisory team, a team of experts, to figure out the price we’ll charge for gas, that you’ll see in the Distribution Plan,” he said. He asked the people to support his economic measures, after the situation that’s a consequence of the “economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the U.S.” He didn’t mention that Venezuela has been importing gas, paid in dollars, since 2012, before the sanctions or before he became president. It took him eight years that, in order to finance the oil industry, they needed to charge money for gas. The myth of the cheapest gas in the world is dead and we’re paying way too high a price for that.
- Four years ago, Yazenky Lamas was arrested in Colombia and extradited to the U.S. for trafficking charges. Lamas was Cilia Flores’s bodyguard and with his testimony, it’s expected that the U.S. charges her with drug trafficking and corruption, sources familiar with the case told Reuters. Lamas said he felt abandoned by Maduro’s government and signed an agreement admitting to drug trafficking charges and to cooperate as a witness. Lamas said that “Cilia knew everything” and that she saw her children using official planes to travel abroad on holiday and driving military SUVs with dollars in cash to store them out of Caracas. The Reuters piece says that “Flores, an old strategist and enabler of the ruling socialist party, first got notoriety as a legislator and confidant.” They interviewed Lamas and 20 more people who know her for the piece. They describe her as an astute, sneaky politician who has most of Nicolás’s powers, demands meetings before him, negotiates with foreign and domestic envoys and rivals. According to former SEBIN director Manuel Cristopher Figuera: “Cilia Flores has always been behind the curtain, moving the threads of power.” Figuera and Lamas both confirmed Cilia’s nepotic power, broadly documented with dozens of her relatives as public employees, but the piece goes deeper into her political decisions renouncing the rule of law and reiterating arbitrary decisions. In 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Nicolás and then Cilia a year later.
- Jorge Rodríguez reported that they registered 34 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 1,245. He assured that 954 (77 % of cases) are “imported” and “merely” 261 are local. There are only 932 active cases and 524 are in sentinel hospitals, 391 in CDIs and 17 in private hospitals. Rodríguez said that so far they’ve done 897,695 tests, without specifying how many of those are PCR and how many were rapid-response. He chastised the EU for the International Donors Conference in solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees: “It’s so barbaric, cynical and hypocritical that our Foreing Ministry issued a comuniqué about this fraudulent show,” he said.
- Dr. Andreína Urdaneta was detained by CICPC officers without a warrant, for posting a photo of Nicolás on WhatsApp. She was taken to court in Cabimas and charged with offending the president and crimes of hate. She’s in prison. Her colleagues said she was condemning the lack of medical supplies to work.
- The U.S. Department of Justice announced that former deputy Adel El Zabayar was charged with conspiring in a terrorist act, drug and weapon trafficking, activities he did for the Cártel de los Soles. El Zabayar left his seat at the National Assembly to join Bashar Al Assad and fight in Syria.
- The New Herald said on Tuesday that former American congressman David Rivera, who signed a multi-million dollar contract for PDVSA in 2017, gave some of the 15 million dollars he got to Raúl Gorrín—who’s facing charges of corruption and money laundering in the U.S.—as part of an agreement that would have tied Leopoldo López to Nicolás’s regime. Leopoldo López contradicted Rivera and called his testimony “absurd”.
- Portuguesa governor Rafael Calles reported that a new Pico y Placa plan for gas supply would begin yesterday: through a raffle to assign the last numbers of the license plate that could get gas. They’ll hold raffles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it will be streamed on Calles’s Instagram account.
- Calixto Ortega told Reuters that the BCV agreed with the UN Development Programme, to use part of the gold at the Bank of England for purchasing medicine, food and medical supplies. That’s the idea chavismo defends in a London court, where they’re saying that the Bank of England is refusing to recognize them and follow their instructions.
- ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab reported that they issued a measure for the release of a young man with Down Syndrome arbitrarily detained for protesting. His mother said on Tuesday night that he hadn’t been released from prison yet.
- Journalist Javier Ignacio Mayorca reported that the electricity sub-station 6 of Planta Centro exploded in Carabobo. There were reports of explosions in sub-stations in Maracaibo, while it rained. There was a power outage, too.
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